When I told people I was going to the Amalfi Coast, I was always met with an “oh my gosh, that’s exciting, it looks so beautiful!” Followed by an “oh I heard it’s such a pain to get there.” I never really thought much of it. I figured they were talking about isolated incidents they’d heard about. Plus, other bloggers traveled there all the time and they never mentioned anything going awry.
Anyway, Diana and I had left Florence so early in the morning it was barely dusk when we got to the train that would take us to Napoli (or Naples). After a short ride to Napoli, we went on an adventure to find the Circumesuviana (kind of like the NYC Subway or Bay Area BART) all the way to Sorrento. From Sorrento, we took a charter bus to the Conca Dei Marini, a town nestled in between Positano and Amalfi. It sounds like a lot of travel. And that’s because it is. It was tough, especially carrying around luggage as heavy as mine (again, I had a full-size suitcase because of my diabetes supplies). And the trip wasn’t over when we got off the bus.
After crawling our way through from the back of the bus to the front exit, we realized we were on a desolate cliff side road, with a beautiful view, but we had no clue where our Airbnb was. After a quick minute to compose ourselves and take in the spectacular view, we realized we had quite a few staircases to go down to get to our home for the next 4 days.
I kid you not, I would say I had to lug my suitcase down like 500 steps. And this is a small Italian seaside town, so these steps are all different heights, widths, some are wet, some are cobblestone; a workout. It was a workout. I now knew what everyone was talking about when they said it was tough to get here.
Anyway, once we got to the cutest most perfect Airbnb, we collapsed for a bit, took in the view once again, and then realized we were hungry. But where were we going to find food? The main road was just a road and nothing else. We figured if we kept going down the staircases towards the beach we would find something. And we did find a restaurant, but it was closed. The people at the beach told us we’d have to climb up until we reached another road where there was a restaurant and a small store.
I was not ecstatic about this, but we had to do what we had to do. So we started back up the stairs, and finally managed to get to the main road. Then right across the road was the next set of steps to keep going upward. As we started, my blood sugar was starting to drop rapidly, as indicated by the pair of arrows on my insulin pump pointing downwards. I ate some Italian starbursts I bought in Florence hoping to regulate it. At this time, we came across a young man and his mom. They were visiting from Asia (I was too light-headed to remember the country exactly).
They looked athletic and were actually on their way back up to their hotel. Since Diana and I were pretty much just going up til we could spot the road, they offered to stay with us until we found food and water. A little after that, I had to stop completely, I told Diana to go ahead and I’d catch up when I could. So I spent a good 20-30 minutes sitting on a bench, looking out at the town of Conca Dei Marini, surrounded by so many cats (I also made a call to my mom because I was feeling super defeated by my diabetes and the stairs).
By the time my blood sugar had normalized and I was no longer shaky, it was getting dark, so I hurriedly went back to conquer these stairs. And boy was it scary. I got lost, it became pitch black, and there was literally no one around. Eventually, I made it to the road and to the restaurant where Diana was waiting for me. She had picked us up some water and pizzas.
And as soon as I could catch my breath, the restaurant offered their shuttle services to take us back down to the road closest to the staircase to our Airbnb (it was easy to go down the steps when not carrying luggage).
That night, we dined on pizza, drank the wine our host had provided us with (his son owns a winery or vineyard, I can’t remember), and listened to radio (this is one of the first times we’d heard Taki Taki; very popular in Europe).
The next day we slept in a bit, had some delicious coffee with a side of the ocean view, and then we headed back up to the main road to catch a bus to Amalfi. That bus though, was nowhere to be found. We walked almost the entire 3km to Amalfi when we finally caught a bus.
Amalfi is picturesque to say the least. It was beautiful, warm, and lively. And we were hungry. We decided to feast on some yummy fried seafood that was served hot and wrapped in newspaper. And although we were fighting off the flies and bees the entire time, I can confidently say that it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
After that memorable meal, we wandered around Amalfi. We roamed around the Amalfi Cathedral, did some souvenir shopping, and stopped for some coffee & cannolis! At this café, Diana and I met Diana, an adorable French Bulldog that was pompously seated at the table next to us, trying to rub off and out of her harness.
Amalfi known for its lemons and limoncello production, is also included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So although a small place, it's filled with history and culture!
After a yummy gelato on the beach, it was about dinner time and we were in the mood for more seafood! Diana had seen many people online recommend (name of restaurant), so we found it, sitting in between allies and stairs. The place wasn’t busy, but it had a nice atmosphere and décor nonetheless.
I ordered the catch of the day with of course, some red wine. After a fantastic fresh dinner, we headed out, said goodbye to the cat that was hanging out at front of the restaurant, and proceeded to walk closer to the water where all the buses and taxis were located.
It was just before 10pm, and unfortunately, the little market that sells bus tickets informed us that the last bus heading towards Conca Dei Marini left at 9. So there we were, haggling with taxi drivers, trying to get the best possible rate. We managed to find one that took pity on us and so we went on our way back up the main road to the stairs down to the Airbnb.
We pretty much just hung out, planned the next day’s activities, and fell asleep to the sound of the ocean nearby.
The next day, we woke up early to see the sunrise, but promptly went back to our beds to sleep in some more. After a couple hours, we were up and getting ready to make our way towards Positano. We joked that we were on our way to living our best “Julia Hengel” life.
To get to Positano, we took the bus from the previous day into Amalfi. We grabbed a delicious Caprese sandwich and then headed towards the dock to catch the ferry to Positano. Now, we could’ve simply gone on the bus in the opposite direction instead of to Amalfi, but we had heard that the views while on the water were spectacular. The ferry filled up quickly. Diana and I managed to get some pretty good seats at the top level.
As the ferry went down the coast, we saw the beautiful greenery, the picturesque colorful houses (including our bright yellow Airbnb), and the unbelievably blue water.
When we arrived to Positano, we did notice it was not as saturated in terms of color as we had seen on Instagram (go figure), but it was breathtaking nonetheless. As soon as we were on land, we noticed lots of people eating Limoncello (or huge lemons with like a snow cone consistency inside). And like Amalfi, Positano is also known for its groves of lemons. We noticed all of the buildings, almost piled up like a mountain. We realized that to explore this town, there would be a lot of uphill walking and, shocker, stairs. But we were up for the challenge, even if it was a warm day. We were in Positano!
As we walked through the colorful alley ways, and markets selling the most exquisite produce, and unique pottery, I felt so relaxed. Although Positano has its fair share of tourism, it isn’t overwhelming.
Positano has a lot of fun shopping. If you’re into higher end stores, you’ll find a beautiful Missoni storefront, but if you’re into bargain shopping like me, there are some incredible little boutiques with scarves, dresses, and more in the most vibrant and fun colors and prints.
And what would a trip to the Amalfi Coast be without a quick dip in the ocean! Before heading towards the beach, Diana made a pit stop at a small market to grab some snack and a couple of Bellinis.
We found a restroom where we could change into our swimsuits, and off we were to the black sand beach!
I hung out on the beach for a bit, enjoying my Bellini, and thinking about how far I had come. From being at one point, so self-conscious that I couldn’t even leave my house, to wearing a swimsuit on the beach on the coast of Italy, and feeling beautiful.
I did go for a quick swim, but as some of you know, I don’t even know how to swim. So once I realized the waves were a bit too intense, I made my way back to the beach.
After sunset, we quickly dried off and headed up into the town to look for a quick bite.
We found a hole in the wall restaurant where we grabbed a panini and then we were ready to find our bus and head back to Conca Dei Marini. Now the main road that connects Positano, Conca Dei Marini, and Amalfi is a narrow one that, again, is cliff side, with the water below. So imagine a huge bus driving through this road, in complete darkness, and without being able to see if there is a car coming towards us. Terrifying.
Anyway, the bus finally arrived at our stop and we made our way down the stairs to our home away from home. And after a quick shower, Diana and I decided to spend our last night on the Amalfi Coast, drinking that bottle of wine the Airbnb host left for us, and just chatting.
The next morning, we woke up early to see the sunrise one more time. It is one of the most beautiful things I have and will ever see, I am sure.
We drank some delicious coffee made in an Italian press. I also had some packing to do. And some thinking. So remember, on the way down to the Airbnb, I had trouble with my luggage. So just imagine, the mortified feeling I was sitting in when I remembered I would have to lug that thing back up all of those stairs again (we even asked the host if there was a water taxi we could take to Positano, and then catch a bus to Sorrento from there. But nope.)! So once I was packed and ready to go, Diana helped me take my luggage up the stairs. Then the poor thing had to go back down and come all the way back up with her own bag (she rested for about an hour, which gave me a chance to chit chat with two separate American couples waiting for different buses).
Once we were both on the main road, we caught a bus to Sorrento. About 2 hours later, once in Sorrento, we caught the Circumesuviana to the Napoli train station. Once in Napoli, we had some time to kill before our flight, so we decided to grab a bite somewhere in the city. We checked our baggage into storage at the train station and headed out. Now, I have been to Napoli before briefly when I was 16. I made my own pizza, out a cannoli, it was great. This time around it was questionable.
Everywhere we turned, there were gypsies asking for money, including and especially children, men selling bootleg everything, and other cat calling any woman walking by. Multiple businesses, including a bank, had shattered windows and graffitied walls.
Our original plan was to eat pizza (pizza was invented in Napoli), but we didn’t want to venture out too far, so we settled on a small Turkish? restaurant. The food was delicious! We were glad we chose this location because it almost seemed more authentic.
While we were eating, a young girl, no older than 7 years old walked in to ask Diana and me for money. The restaurant employees quickly shooed her away and told us about that little girl, her sisters, and mom who were “professionals” and knew how to rob you without you even realizing. Not five minutes later, the little girl’s older sister came in, also asking us for money. Again, she was shooed away. We felt bad for the girls, but we also made sure to keep an extra eye out for anyone trying to sneak into our backpacks or purses.
We continued on our quick adventure through Napoli, heading back towards the train station. Since we still had about an hour before we needed to catch the bus to the airport, we hung out at a very chic looking café for a café fredo (cold coffee).
When it was time to make our way to the airport, we picked up our luggage and caught a bus (it was so packed, I didn’t even have to hold onto anything).
Finally, we made it to the Napoli Airport! And we were off to the next adventure, which was also, sadly, the last leg of the trip.
Have you been to the Amalfi Coast? How did you deal with the stairs?
Thanks for reading!
-The B of V